Rob Sampson participated in a “Rally to Block the New Britain to Hartford Busway,” calling the $570 million project a waste of taxpayer dollars and “just plain wrong” for Connecticut.
Sampson, who represents Wolcott and Southington in the General Assembly, is among the leading opponents of the proposed 9.4-mile bus route, which will see Connecticut chip in roughly $113 million toward the overall cost. Though federal funds will cover the balance, Connecticut would be responsible for an estimated $8 million per year to maintain the service once construction is finished.
“This busway is the wrong project at the wrong time for our state. I have real concerns about the conditions of our existing roads and bridges and spending almost $600 million on a busway while existing road maintenance projects throughout the state are unfunded. We need to get our priorities straight.” said Sampson.
According to a DOT road and bridge report, one out of every 11 bridges that motorists in Connecticut cross everyday are deteriorating to some degree, while 9.2 percent of bridges statewide are rated “structurally deficient” according to government standards, compared to 11.5 percent nationwide.
Most bridges are designed to last roughly 50 years. The average age of bridges in the U.S. is 42 years old. Connecticut’s average is 47.2 years old. The number of “structurally deficient” bridges is virtually guaranteed to increase over time, as a wave of old bridges reach the end of their designed lives.
Michael Nicastro, executive director of the Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce, said at the rally that the federal government’s lukewarm response so far shows that the busway plan is a failure. “We don’t even have the first $45 million yet. And $45 million doesn’t scratch the surface of this project,” Nicastro said.
Nicastro also stated the promise of jobs after the busway is built is widely overstated with no really proof of future jobs. Also Nicastro noted that the busway’s projected ridership numbers are inflated.
A member of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, Sampson said, “Let us not forget the governor imposed the largest tax increase in state history to cover reckless spending of the past. It’s time for the legislature to begin acting responsibly with the taxpayers’ money.”